The Power of the Network

Networking.

It’s a word we’ve heard before, but one which we continually tend to ignore, as if it’s a rather confusing fly buzzing quietly in the background.

So what does it actually mean, to use as applicants, students, graduates, even employees?

Well, if we look at it closer, we realise we’re already doing it without even noticing.

Events such as the one I went to today, the Manchester Graduate Fair, are great opportunities to talk to recruiters / universities at stands. UCAS and Higher Education fairs, for example, offer you an opportunity to speak to people you might actually be working with in a couple of years time.

But that’s not to say that it’s easy.

And it comes in many forms. There are lots of ways to build your contacts, get yourself noticed, add people to your address book. Twitter (http://twitter.com) is proving to be an even bigger networking tool than anyone could have imagined. Keep your updates about boozing last night to Facebook, and post about how you’re interested in the ‘current social climate’ to Twitter, and who knows, you might just get yourself a few followers.

Business cards, CVs, even stickers might pick you out from the crowd when you’re after that job, too. And even though it sounds rather parent-like, a business card doesn’t have to be a piece of white card with your details on. It could (and should) reflect your unique personality.

Anyway, I’m sorry it’s a dull one today. My brain is buzzing with phrases like ‘Tell us about yourself’ and ‘Why do you want to work for Kellogg’s?’.

On a lighter note, I went to see Derren Brown at The Lowry, Salford last Friday.

I’m still trying to work out how he did half of that utter trickery, five days later.

Matt 🙂

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The End or the Beginning?

You know that feeling before you find out a piece of information which could change your life?

The one before you find out your final assignment grades, whether you got the job or not, or if you’ve done enough to secure a place in the Britain’s Got Talent semi-final?

Well, I’ve had that in plentiful supply over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve had job applications and interviews, assignment marks back for pretty much the whole of the second semester, and after performing live on sta- …ok, the last one wasn’t true.

Anyway, the news has been a mixture of good and bad.  I didn’t get the job I was after, but I did get fairly decent marks in my final assignments.  Add to that the Edge Hill Class of 2010 Graduation Ball and it’s fair to say that May was a pretty good month. 

Now it’s June, and it can be easy to simply write the academic year off as ‘finished’, and look forward to doing absolutely bugger all over the summer holidays.  The final series of Big Brother, for example, would be a good way to spend limitless time on doing absolutely nothing but staring at the box.  After all, you’ve worked hard this year, and you deserve to put your feet up and simmer in the garden.

I’ll admit, it’s exactly what I’ve done for the last say, 21 years of my life. 

But I won’t be doing it this year.

I’ve learnt (rather late on) that working when everyone else isn’t could give you a big advantage when it comes to things like dissertation research, project planning, job applications and the like. Do something productive if you’ve got the summer before you’re due to start uni free – volunteer, do some work experience, research something you’re interested in – anything.  Use your time wisely.

Stuff like this can only give you better skills, more content knowledge, more experience, more quality than everyone else.

Don’t forget the old adage; ‘If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail’.

And on that, rather preaching note, I’ll leave you with a photo of the graduation ball. Stolen from the website.

Matt 🙂gradball.jpg

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Three Years Later

So that’s it.  I’ve officially finished all the work for my degree.  Done. Finito. (Is that a word?)

There’s been a gap between this and my last post for this very reason.  For the last few weeks, myself and my third year housemates have been literally clearing out Tesco’s energy drink shelves, every single day.

In true ‘Will from The Inbetweeners’ style, we have pounded out the revision, the sketchbooks, the final projects and the mammoth essays.  At the start of every module, I distinctly remember saying to myself; ‘I’ll have my work done well before deadline this time’.

I never did, which is why Red Bull have been doing a roaring trade in West Lancashire this month.

So, what of the last three years then?  Well, I’ve never been one to wallow in the past, but I’ll indulge a little anyway.

Back in 2007, I arrived fresh-faced from a long, lazy summer into Eleanor Rathbone hall, dumped my suitcases and settled in for a week of pure, uninterrupted freedom.  To be true, I had no idea that I’d settled myself in for (so far) the best three years of my life.

Little did I know of the people I would meet. The friendships I would make; the ones I know will be with me for life.

From the squabbles over who stole who’s frozen pizza from the communal fridge, to being distracted by Call of Duty when you know there’s a deadline around the corner, it’s been one hell of a ride.

To write it all down just wouldn’t do it justice.

See for yourself.

Matt 🙂

P.S. The pic below is a sample of a third year advertising student’s living room the night before deadline. Check the classic ‘ironing board full of empty energy drinks cans’ sculpture in the corner. 🙂

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Student Employee of the Year

A couple of weeks ago, you may recall my post about why I love being a student ambassador. Amongst the referrals to ball gowns and Ferrero Rocher’s, I mentioned that I’d been nominated for the Edge Hill University ‘On campus Student Employee of the Year’ award.

Well, Tuesday night marked this year’s Edge Hill Careers awards evening.  Held in the Faculty of Education, it was a brilliant night, full of hard working employees and volunteers receiving recognition for their efforts.  There were a whole range of guests from outside companies and institutions, including an empty seat for my other employer, Compass Group. Who never turned up.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re all dying to hear the results.

Well, roll out the fanfare because I did win Student Employee of the Year (On Campus).

To be honest, even though I won, I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t. I was simply happy to be even nominated, and there was lots of stiff competition from some very, very hard workers.

The importance of the team, however, is never to be underestimated.  I know for a fact that if, for example, one day I’m not feeling up to work, the rest of the team will bring my spirits up again and by the end of the day, I’ll be bouncing off the walls.  It’s the collective who move things forward, because there’s only so much one individual can do.  And I know for a fact that my team (mostly) deserve awards of their own for the work they put into making things happen.

Certainly, everyone who received nominations in particular worked their guts out for the privilege, and for that, I have an observation.

Imagine if awards ceremonies and the like didn’t exist. If nobody worked hard because they knew there was simply no chance of ever being recognised for it.  Where would we be?

Simple. In the same place as we are now. Because the people up for awards, be it volunteering or employment, would still work as hard as ever, awards or not. Because they’re dedicated to their work, no matter what the situation. Because they will give up their own time to benefit others.  Because they don’t work and expect to be recognised, but simply because they enjoy the satisfaction that good work gives them.

And that, my friends, is why awards ceremonies exist.

Matt

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Student Guides do Alton Towers

Before this weekend, I’d never been to Alton Towers. In 21 years of being alive, I’d never managed to visit a place full of rollercoasters and water rides, even though I’d usually consider myself something of a thrill seeker.

We arrived well and truly ‘repping’ the uni with our brightly decorated ‘Edge Hill Student Union’ minibus.  The sun was shining, I’d just beaten my ‘Connect 4 friend’ 10-3 on the motorway and for once, I wasn’t bursting for the toilet all the way from Ormskirk.  The white knuckle rides were calling!

So, after waiting for two hours to get on the new rollercoaster Thirteen (which was well worth it, by the way), we headed to Rita to be blasted along a track at a speed I can honestly say I’ve never travelled at before without being 36,000 feet in the air.  Given that Europe is currently a no-fly zone because of some volcano in Iceland, Rita probably was the fastest thing in the EU yesterday.

Oblivion would have been brilliant if it hadn’t have broken down whilst we were queuing.  I’ll have to ask some of our very own Student Guides, who were stuck at the top of it when it conked out.  Turns out we can’t go anywhere without causing trouble!

Finally, after shattering our bones on Sonic Spinball and Nemesis, we decided to get wet.  Well, one of us did. Heading over to Ripsaw, a water ride where it looked as if most people were generally staying dry, I was quite confident that I too would escape having a jet of water shot into my face. Wrong. Turns out that I was the only one on the whole ride who did get watered. Same with the Rapids, although at least everyone else took some water damage on that one too.

Sometimes, though the deadlines are imminent and the workload is as large as ever, you just have to let your hair down.  Alton Towers, for that reason, is a perfect getaway.

Matt

Just to plug our Students Union a little: They managed to get us entry tickets for £19.50 (a massive discount on what it would usually be), and loaned us the union minibus for a very small couple of English pounds each.  For that, I think we were all very grateful. Don’t hesitate to contact the SU for more info if you want to book your own trips away!

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Grand National 2010

Last year’s winner, Mon Mome.

 

 

This week, it’s the biggest three days of the UK horse racing calendar: The John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree Racecourse.

Racing lovers and amateur gamblers alike meet at this prestigious event to enjoy a beer, soak up the April sun and win (or lose) a fair amount of cash.

I’ve been to the Grand National for the last three years in a row. Although from my side of the bar, I certainly haven’t been doing much drinking or betting.  Bah.

One of the regular themes on my blog this year has been part time work.  And every year, this race meet can be a sure-fire winner for skint students.  Not by betting on rank outsiders like last year’s winner, Mon Mome, but by applying for one of the many hospitality and bar positions available.

Of course, I’m not just plugging my own employer here.  The area around Aintree, for example, has many pubs, bars, restaurants, shops and outlets which I’m sure will all offer various levels of employment when the punters start rolling in.

Sadly, this years’ race meet is a bittersweet affair for myself.  It’s probably going to be the last one that I’ll ever work, as it’s only 31 days until my last deadline for my assignments and after that, I’ll be heading home for Manchester.

I’d better get onto it then.

If anyone has any cheeky tips for this year’s National, comment me here.

Matt 🙂

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The Best Job in the World.

Regular readers of my blog (if any such people exist) may have heard me banging on about my part-time job working as a ‘Student Ambassador’ for Edge Hill University.

Now, for the most part, the job of ‘Ambassador’ doesn’t entail walking around in a ball gown with a plate full of Ferrero Rocher’s, as suggested in those iconic adverts of the late ‘90s.  In fact, it often involves standing outside buildings around campus, in the rain, pointing visitors into a doorway I’m already stood by.  Dressed in a bright green, extra-large bib.  It might not sound like glitz and glamour to begin with, but I’ll let you into a little secret.

I love it.

The pay is good.

The people I work with are brilliant.

The skills I’ve developed from the job are invaluable.

I’ll tell you why.

Having worked on numerous applicant visit days, UCAS sessions, open days and Higher Education fairs around the region I’ve gotten myself a whole shed load of confidence, people skills, interaction and presentation skills to boot.  Doing my ‘student experience’ talks (basically, where I get to bang on about my life for half an hour in front of a group of avid listeners) have boosted these skills even further. 

Needless to say, if you’ve got issues with group working or presentation, then, this job will sort them out for you.

For applicants, and even current students, I’d recommend going for a job like mine any day. They skills you’ll gain are essential life skills, and look even better on a CV than they do listed here.  There are all sorts of advocate and ambassador schemes going on at uni, and I’d certainly advise ANYONE to apply.

Anyway, I thought I’d round up by bragging about my nomination this year for the ‘Student Employee of the Year’ award.

Not bad for a job where I started as a ‘human signpost’, eh?

Matt 🙂

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Recharging the Batteries.

The worst possible thing that could happen at this point in my degree actually materialised this week: my laptop exploded.  Gone. One moment I was reading the news, the next, my laptop showed no signs of life at all. Literally dead.

So naturally, I turned to the Bank of Mum for a loan.  I’ve got a new one now, but I’m still in the process of getting all my work, music, files etc back from the old one. Which I really, really need.

Having no laptop, and therefore no distractions (usually in the form of various social networking sites) I realised I had no other option but to get some sketchbook work done.  And some essay planning.  And some other stuff.  I can’t stress enough how much this had made me realise how much time I actually spent online, and just how counter-productive at this time of year the internet could be.

So that’s the theme for this week.  I’m in the final 7-ish weeks of my degree now, and for university applicants, this will too be a pretty gruelling time in the thick of it.  It’s now or never when it comes to filling out those forms and getting the assignments done. The Easter break provides a perfect lecture-free opportunity to get your head down and make a headway on final projects!

That said, in a lecture this week, one of my tutors actually told us to take the Easter weekend off for a quick recharge of the old batteries.  I actually agree with this wise statement, because it’s true that if you don’t take a break your brain will be full of muddles and that’s no use to anyone.  One of my age-old philosophies is to get the balance of work and play correct, which is why I am now off to play football!

Matt

P.S, Sorry for the lack of activity over the last few weeks.  I really have been snowed under. And this new keyboard doesn’t help.

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Happy Birthday ‘Hi!’

It’s been three years today since the Hi! Applicant site was launched!  What’s more, the first set of students to use the Hi! Site – myself included – will graduate this year. Scary!

I’ve only been blogging for the site since last year but already I feel a sense of pride from my involvement with the content. I’m extremely proud to be contributing to future applicants, and maybe even future bloggers, my own thoughts and experiences of university life.

The student blogs themselves are a really useful insight into what it’s really like to be studying (and eating, drinking, living…) here at Edge Hill.  Add to those the discussion forums and you can pretty much find out anything you like about being a student, straight from the horses mouth.

It’s not only the Hi! Site’s birthday, but Edge Hill University’s anniversary too this year; 125 years in fact.  For more info about Hi!’s birthday, and lots of other interesting little tidbits about the uni, visit the ‘125 by 125’ blog: http://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/125by125/ .

Matt 🙂

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Under Pressure

Yesterday, through process of deduction and pure mathematical skills which I do not actually possess, I worked out what my degree classification is probably going to end up as.

Well actually, I didn’t because at the moment it’s still rather ambiguous.  Basically, I have 4 modules left, two of which are worth 30 credits, totalling 6 modules worth of marks to contribute in the final semester of my degree. (That all sounds a little complicated, but it basically means I’ve got 6 more module marks and then my fate is sealed).

And my fate does indeed rest upon these final, axe-wielding modules.  As it happens, I’m still in line for a classification of ‘First’ for my degree – if I work hard enough. I need six ‘firsts’ grades, one from each modules, for my whole degree to level out as a first. Any less, and I’ll get a 2:1.  If I fail miserably at this hefty target and end up with five 2:1’s, I’ll end up with a 2:2. The pressure is on, then.

I realise, to applicants, that this blog may actually not be of much worth at the moment.  The gravity of the situation will not actually sink in until the second semester of the final year.  I’ve done fairly well so far, but not well enough to stop me from sweating profusely at the mere thought that right now I could still come out with top marks if I get my head out of the Facebook-shaped clouds and simply work.

On another note, I bought the game ‘Rome: Total War’ this week. Rather unimpressed that I found out the news the day after my purchase!

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